Author: Thalia Weaver PM
Two friends sit on the steps, the night before one of them is being drafted for the Vietnam War.Rated: Fiction K - English - Words: 779 - Reviews: 3 - Published: 09-21-03 - id: 1404700
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
[The setting: a barren flight of grey stone steps. At the top is a red door. It is late at night.]
[JOE and DAVID enter, laughing. DAVID is holding a bottle.]
JOE: I still don't know how you got this.
DAVID [holding the bottle up]: Stealthily, my friend. [he pauses.] In honor.
JOE: Of me?
DAVID: Yeah. Of your eighteenth birthday.
JOE: [he takes the bottle and stares at it for awhile.] Of my eighteenth birthday. [he laughs.] Pssh.
DAVID: It's an honorable occasion.
JOE: It's a tragedy, is what it is. Damnit, David!
DAVID: [takes the bottle; swigs] In honor.
JOE: An honorable death, y'mean?
JOE: There ain't no honor, over there-- not in the jungles.
DAVID [getting angry]: I said, don't!
JOE: You ain't the one going. [he laughs.] In honor of my eighteenth birthday, huh? [quietly] In honor of the draft.
DAVID [looking around, restless]: What time is it-- midnight? Ten? I can't tell.
JOE: I don't know. My watch doesn't work.
DAVID: Well. There's your excuse. Your watch don't work.
DAVID: You don't have to go-- tell 'em you missed the time. Your watch don't work.
JOE: Oh, man, Dave. I ain't dodgin'.
DAVID [desperate]: Why not? Why ain't you dodgin'?
JOE: I can't. I ain't that type of guy--
DAVID: Are you a dead type of guy, then? A dead one? A dead one, Joe?
DAVID: A jungle type? A land-mine type?
JOE [takes the bottle]: A drunk type. Stop it, Dave.
DAVID: Damnit, Joe. ...Damnit.
JOE: I know. [he lifts the bottle; loudly and sarcastically] In honor of Mr. Lyndon B. Johnson and his wars!
DAVID: It ain't right. We ain't had any time.
JOE: Any time? [laughs] Sorry, my watch don't work.
DAVID: No, I'm serious. ...any time-- any anything, and now you're leaving and you might d--
JOE: Don't. Please, Dave.
DAVID: All right. But-- you're only eighteen. You know?
JOE: Yeah. [he looks down at the bottle and takes a drink] I ain't done anything of interest.
DAVID: Yeah-- nothin' of interest. [to himself, quietly] And maybe you never will, Joe, and maybe I never will...
JOE: What was that, Dave?
DAVID: Nothing. [pause] I turn eighteen in a few months.
JOE: A few months, a few months. [laughs bitterly] And by then they might have finished me off. Who knows,
Dave? Maybe it'll be you that'll have to tell my mom and pa. I'm sure they'll be thrilled.
DAVID: Don't say that.
JOE: Don't say it. Don't say anything, Dave, don't say anything, Joe, because you might die. And you'll die a long way from home if you do.
DAVID: In the jungles. ...in the jungles...
JOE: In the camps. I heard that sometimes little kids offer the American soldiers some soda...a little water...to refresh 'em. And they fill them with broken glass.
DAVID [quietly]: God.
JOE: Don't bring him into this, Dave! He ain't got nothin' to do with it.
DAVID: Maybe he doesn't. [pause] Joe, don't leave.
JOE: I have to. [soft laugh] For honor. In honor.
DAVID: Honor. [takes the bottle] It's half empty.
JOE: Or half full. [swigs] It all depends on how you look at it.
DAVID: Those jungles. I dream about them.
JOE: The fire, right? And screaming.
JOE: I wake up sweatin'. Tomorrow I'll be there, Dave, I'll be there...
DAVID: Tomorrow you'll be eighteen. [raises the bottle] Happy birthday.
JOE: Yeah. Happy birthday to me. And happy birthday, [takes the bottle]-- happy birthday to all the guys that turned
eighteen and died out there.
DAVID: And maybe you won't, maybe you'll come home-- maybe you'll come home, Joe...
JOE: But I won't. [puts the bottle down] I won't, Dave, I'm a dead man walkin'.
DAVID: A dead man? [he puts his hand on Joe's stomach] Still breathin'.
JOE [looks down at DAVID's hand]: Yeah. ...now.
DAVID [on the verge of tears; pulls his hand back]: Now.
JOE: I better get some sleep. [laughs] Big day tomorrow. [takes a final sip of the bottle] Good night, Dave.
DAVID: Good night, Joe-- goodbye.
JOE [stands; hesitates, looks back]: --Goodbye.
[Exit JOE. DAVID stays, looking down at the bottle in his hand for awhile.]
DAVID [raising the bottle]: Here's to you, Joe. In honor.